Roger Federer: Beginning of the End?


Roger Federer: Beginning of the End?

Roger Federer is the best tennis player of all time. At this point in his career, there are not many tennis fans who would argue that fact, and those that would are wrong.

Most players would be pleased to PLAY IN 23 straight Grand Slams, much less reach the final four each time.

There are numerous statistics and records that provide proof for the claim Federer is not surpassed in the discussion of the greatest to wield a racket: a record 17 Grand Slam titles, six Wimbledon titles (including five in a row), five times in a row winning US Open, two consecutive years holding three of the four Grand Slam titles, a career Grand Slam, 83 career titles, 302 weeks at world number one. Those are all impressive, but the most astounding statistic is Federer’s Grand Slam consistency. At one point in his career, he reached 23 straight Grand Slam semifinals and 10 straight Grand Slam finals! Most players would be pleased to PLAY IN 23 straight Grand Slams, much less reach the final four each time.

The type of dominance that Federer has displayed in his sport can only be matched with names like Jack Nicklaus, Michael Jordan, and Babe Ruth. Each of those greats eventually saw the decline in their play and Federer may be nearing his. The years of dominance are over. Not only have his rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic taken over Grand Slam duties, there is a younger generation hot on his heels. At age 33, Federer may not have enough in the tank to keep himself at the top of the game.

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Federer has not won a Grand Slam title since Wimbledon in 2012. In the past two years, It has been just as common for him to exit before the quarterfinals as it is to reach the final eight or further. While he is currently ranked No.2, he finished 2013 at No.6 and dipped to No.8 at one point last year.

While Federer’s age grows, so does his family. In May of last year, Federer and wife, Mirka welcomed their second set of twins. Now with four children, Federer’s family rightfully takes up much of his time.

Federer has shown flashes of his former self even as recently as this year’s Brisbane Open. He captured that title by dispatching of up-and-comers Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic. After seeing vintage Federer, many were liking his chances at a deep run at the Australian Open. His third round loss to Andreas Seppi was a shocker. This is what happens as players get older. Some days are great and some days are not. The body does not cooperate and the great champions are not longer able to gut out a win when they are not playing their best tennis.

Federer may show us glimpses into the past on occasion this tennis season, but success at the Grand Slams takes two weeks of seven grueling matches where the ups and downs of growing older take their toll.

Federer’s record of 17 Grand Slam titles is not likely to increase, but how will this champion address the end of his career? There are different approaches to tennis exits. Some have accepted mediocrity while prolonging their careers (Jimmy Connors) and some have gone out on top (Pete Sampras). Federer’s motivation has not wavered and three years ago he set his sights on the only major title to elude him: Olympic gold. With the 2016 Games in Rio fast approaching, how will Federer’s final chapter be written?

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